Monoclonal antibodies may help those with COVID-19

Monoclonal antibodies may help those with COVID-19

While much of the focus during the last few months of the pandemic has been centered on vaccines for COVID-19, thousands of people across the country continue to contract the virus each day. For those who become sick, a treatment called monoclonal antibodies therapy may help prevent serious illness and hospitalizations.

Monoclonal antibodies have been shown to help some patients avoid complications from COVID-19, said Dr. Adam Treitman, Chief of Infectious Diseases and medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.

While scientists are still studying the medicine, data shows that it helps patients who have developed symptoms from the virus within 10 days and do not yet require hospitalization or supplemental oxygen, Treitman said.

The medicine, which is administered by one-time infusion at hospitals across the Advocate Aurora Health system in both Illinois and Wisconsin, is being used under emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients must meet certain age and risk factor criteria in order to qualify for the treatment. Those who suspect they may have contracted COVID-19 and then have a positive PCR test result should consult their physician to see if monoclonal antibodies may be right for them.

The treatment received attention last year when former President Donald Trump received the medicine when he contracted the virus. President Joe Biden’s administration has recently touted the federal government’s ample supply of the medicine.

While people should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands frequently and get vaccinated when they are eligible, monoclonal antibodies may help those who do contract the coronavirus from ending up in the hospital or suffering serious complications.

Suguna Siramdasu received an infusion of monoclonal antibody drug bamlanivimab at Advocate Christ Medical Center in December. The former physician said the therapy helped reduce her fever, eliminated her headache and, she believes, prevented more serious complications and the COVID-19 symptoms from worsening.

“As soon as the infusion was done, my headache was gone,” she said. “It was so dramatic. I told the nurse, ‘I came in with a headache, and now I don’t have one at all.’ This is like magic.”

Siramdasu’s other symptoms lingered for about 36 hours, but then her fever broke and she began to slowly feel better. She remained fatigued for a few more days, but she believes the monoclonal antibody treatment aided her recovery.

“I think that saved us,” she said.

Check out our COVID-19 Info Center to learn more about the virus.

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Patrick M. O’Connell

Patrick M. O'Connell, health enews contributor, is a member of the public affairs team for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked as a reporter at news outlets throughout the Midwest, most recently the Chicago Tribune. He enjoys playing and coaching baseball and basketball, hiking, reading, listening to podcasts, karaoke and spending time in nature with his family.